“When we run to God with our complaints, He always listens, but He doesn’t always respond at the same deafening volume as the one we’re using.” SIMON ELLIOTT PAGE 12 >>
“Satan is always trying to mess with my identity in Christ by telling me lies.” DAVE KRAFT PAGE 13>>
4 Leaders get better Bill Hybels challenged 2016 Global Leadership Summit delegates. >>
8 Living on soup
Photo: Celine Grobler
A new group in the community is facing homelessness. >>
Allan Meyer challenges leaders at Lesmurdie Baptist Church regarding moral and spiritual integrity.
From good to valiant The male congregation of Lesmurdie Baptist Church are on a path towards becoming valiant men in their relationships. The Church recently hosted a series of events with Dr Allan Meyer from Careforce Lifekeys. Allan and his wife Helen established the Careforce programs to equip the local church to become a restoring community while they were pastors in rural Victoria. The premise behind the programs is to recognise that people who come to Jesus Christ need healing from the wounds they bring with them. Secondly,
helping the wider community find Christ is most likely to happen when the church meets people in their situation and helps them through their brokenness. It was the desire to address the brokenness around issues of sexual intimacy that led Lesmurdie to the Careforce Lifekeys Valiant Man program. At the end of the first season of the program, the men who had participated stood before the gathered church to invite other men to join them in the commitment to be valiant men. “It’s difficult to find the words to describe the impact of that moment for our church,” Pastor Karen Siggins said. “Suffice to say that when part of the church family stands up like that the whole church becomes a better, safer and more loving community.”
Simon Warwick and Gary Fitzgerald were participants in the first season and from there became champions of the program and instrumental in inviting Allan to Perth. During his time in Perth Allan spoke at a variety of events, including one on the topic of sexual intimacy at a young adult evening and at a forum for women on the fine art of understanding men. Other events included a men’s breakfast, a steak night for men who had completed the Valiant Man program and an evening with leaders from the church. Lesmurdie Baptist Church also partnered with 98five Sonshine FM to host a breakfast meeting with Allan for pastors and leaders from across Perth. What began as an opportunity to encourage the
men of Lesmurdie Baptist Church with a visit from Allan Meyer turned into something with a far broader reach. “At the end of the message Allan preached on the Sunday, I invited people to respond. Some acknowledged their own need for recovery from brokenness and others committed to taking their place of service so that our church can show the love of God in the broken places experienced by our wider community.” “In my time at Lesmurdie I have rarely seen so many people come forward. As a church, we have said we want to be valiant, we want to show great courage and determination in all aspects of our lives for the sake of the world Jesus loves so dearly,” Karen said.
11 Protection from porn The devastating impact on how young people view sexual relationships. >>
Generous hearts committed to building the Kingdom of God. BAPTIST CHURCHES WESTERN AUSTRALIA
my view DECEMBER 2016
The gift of discernment The radio is on in the background and they’re talking about a leadership election getting ugly and you half listen because it’s not an unimportant event.
Rhidian Brook Author of The Aftermath, Rhidian Brook is an award winning novelist, screenwriter and broadcaster.
But there’s another leadership contest being announced, plus a big article about racial problems in America to read, and you ought to watch the interview with the person who might be the next Prime Minister. So, you do that while sifting through all the tweets and posts about Brexit, and after a while you feel you’ve absorbed a lot of information but learned nothing, and you feel angry or anxious or confused. There have been times when it’s been hard to keep up with the news – even in barest outline.
The speed, the momentousness, the clamour of it, and the short amount of time we have to process – it all increases a sense of feeling overwhelmed. It’s even been suggested the news is bad for us – that rather than informing us, it inhibits thinking, makes us passive and indifferent to the suffering of others, whilst reaffirming us in our existing prejudices. Add to that the problem of the news itself being distorted or misreported and it’s tempting to ignore it all – for good.
But I’m not sure withdrawal is the answer. It’s often when events are at their most confusing and troubling that we need to engage in order to understand them better. The challenge for us seems to be: how do we stay informed about the issues of the day without being overwhelmed or paralysed by them? How do we see clearly what’s really going on without first being blinded and then jaded? We don’t want to become the kind of nation described
in Deuteronomy ‘a nation without sense, where there is no discernment.’ And if there’s a quality that consumers, deliverers and makers of news need – it’s the gift of discernment. The sound judgement that makes it possible to tell good from bad, recognise truth and integrity. It can help us in the way we respond to news – the time we take to consider it, what to say about it, and see what is important. I believe we should stay engaged in order to be what Scripture encourages us to be: a people ‘who understand the times they’re living in’ so that they can ‘know best what to do and discern what the end will be.’
Actually, I went out of my way … Ever spared a thought for the owner of the crowded inn Mary and Joseph tried to check into when they arrived in Bethlehem?
Dr Brian Harris Dr Brian Harris is the Principal of Vose Seminary and Pastor at Large for the Carey Group.
If you’ve heard the Christmas story, you’ll remember the outcome. With no rooms to spare, but faced with a heavily pregnant woman about to give birth, he offers the couple lodging in the stable. It was less than ideal, but what are you supposed to do when it’s census time and every couple and their donkey has arrived in town? I’ve seen a lot of nativity plays, but I’m longing for one that portrays the innkeeper sympathetically. Rather than
viewing him as the villain who didn’t help a pregnant peasant, the case could be made that he did what he could, and although he didn’t go a second mile, he did at least go one and a quarter miles. Imagine if we were able to ask him why he hadn’t tried a little harder to ensure that Jesus was born indoors. If he were an articulate man, I imagine he would protest: “Don’t forget that the inn was full – and full is full. They were peasants. It’s not as though
they weren’t used to sleeping outside. Furthermore, they omitted to mention that the child about to be born was the Messiah, and that all of history would be changed because of Him. Obviously if I had known that, I would have offered them my room – but I’m an innkeeper, not a prophet. How was I supposed to know? Actually, I’m rather proud about what I did. Not everyone would have opened up their stable to them. I did,
and because I did, the Saviour of the world had a roof over His head at birth. A hundred other innkeepers would have said ‘No room. Get lost!’ I didn’t. I said, ‘No room, but I’ll do the best I can to help.’ And I did …” That innkeeper did what he felt he could – but it really wasn’t enough. But then Christmas happened because nothing that we do, will ever be enough.
Knights and still voices Some years back, my niece had a ‘Princesses and Knights’ themed party for her birthday and wanted her guests to dress up.
Yvette Cherry Yvette Cherry is the Worship Ministry Coordinator at Riverton Baptist Community Church.
I had borrowed a puffy 1980s ball gown that my sister-in-law had saved for such occasions. But my eldest daughter wanted to go as a knight and I had no knight paraphernalia in the house. I debated whether to go to Toys R Us and look for some dress-ups. Such a trip would have meant bundling the girls, including my newborn, into the car for a drive across town to the shop before it closed. “Don’t do it!” a little voice whispered into my thoughts.
“You’re too tired,” the little voice persisted. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, and the lack of rational thought that accompanies, but I decided to go anyway. It was a bad choice. While I was looking for the perfect princess birthday card, my daughters were fighting over who would push the baby in the trolley. In the fight, they managed to flip the trolley over and it pinned them to the floor
with their baby sister in the seat upside down on top of them. After I managed to right side the trolley and unclip the baby, we sat on the floor and all had a good cry. I called my husband, Leigh, and he collected the big girls while I took the baby to the hospital emergency department to be checked over. “Her skull isn’t boggy,” the doctor said, “I think she’s okay.” I took her home and Leigh made me rest while he fashioned an awesome knight’s helmet and
shield from cardboard, ice-cream containers and alfoil. I’d attempted to do too much, I didn’t listen to the Holy Spirit’s wise prompting and I ended up at the hospital. We are coming up to Christmas which, in our culture, encourages a sense of urgency and hurriedness. It also encourages perfection and excess. But I don’t want it anymore. I’m learning to listen more attentively to God’s voice guiding me through the day. And I’m learning to value what matters to God. To be present and unhurried. To be attune and obedient to His voice.
letters to the editor send us your letters The Advocate welcomes your letters to the editor on topics of concern to you and the community. Send your letters of no more than 100 words to email@example.com by the 10th of each month.
The truth about Christmas
I am tired of people talking about the ‘spirit of Christmas’ or the ‘reason for the season’. It’s just wrong. The truth is, that what we celebrate at Christmas is available to you every day of the year. Christmas is simply a time when we celebrate the amazing gift you and I have been given, but you’ve got to accept it. So, even if you believe Jesus was God, what difference does it make? It’s huge. Because Jesus came at Christmas, His three gifts can be true in your life. • The gift of forgiveness: that takes care of your past. Jesus didn’t come to rub it in, He came to rub it out. • The gift of strength: that takes care of your present. You don’t know what 2017 will hold, but you can face everything by the power that Jesus Christ gives you in your life. • The gift of eternal life: that takes care of your future. You know where you are going if you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When you die your future is assured.
He went from the crib to the cross and rose again to prove He was God and to defeat sin and death.
God has a gift for you. You matter to Him. Maybe you’ve felt close to God in the past and have drifted away or maybe you have never felt close to God. God has a gift for you and I challenge you, don’t waste another Christmas refusing His gift.
So, how can a baby born over 2,000 years ago on the other side of the world have such an impact on us? Because this was no ordinary baby. Why? Check out this famous passage from the Bible, but translated into modern English: ‘This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.’ [John 3:16-18] When Jesus entered the world He did it just like everyone else does, as a baby. But he was no ordinary baby. He grew up and taught people things about God. He grew up and He died on a cross. He went from the crib to the cross and rose again to prove He was God and to defeat sin and death. Jesus became the Saviour of the world.
Baptist Churches Western Australia Director of Ministries Pastor Mark Wilson describes three Christmas gifts available for all.
Apostolic pioneer goes to Glory Widely regarded as one of the foremost authorities on church growth in the 21st century, C Peter Wagner, a pioneer in the apostolic ministry passed away aged 86 on 21 October. Wagner was recognised as a leading authority in the fields of church growth and spiritual warfare. He co-founded the World Prayer Centre and was chancellor of the Wagner Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Wagner worked tirelessly to bring the Great Commission to fulfilment and establish God’s Kingdom on earth. “The Great Commission has been central to my life,” Wagner wrote in a 2012 article for Charisma magazine. “I committed myself to missions the night I was saved when I was 19. I spent my first 16 years of ministry as a field missionary and the next 30 years as a professor of missions.” Wagner wrote more than 70 books such as Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, Engaging the Enemy and Radical Holiness for Radical Living.
from the team at Baptistcare
local briefs Pastoral changes Pastor Peter Scott has been appointed as the new Associate Pastor at Carey Baptist Church. Pastor Rob Furlong has concluded as the Pastoral Consultant at Baptist Churches Western Australia and will commence as the new Senior Pastor at Woodvale Baptist Church in March 2017. Pastor Philip Bryant has concluded as the Church Health Consultant with Baptist Churches Western Australia.
Merry Christmas Wishing The Advocate readers a safe and blessed holiday
Humanitarian crisis in Mosul, Iraq Baptist World Aid Australia has launched a Middle East Crisis Appeal to help those people who have been displaced from Mosul. For more information about the Middle East Crisis and to download church resources, visit baptistworldaid.org.au/middleeast-crisis-resources.
season with family, friends and loved ones. Baptistcare is one of WA’s largest not-for-profit aged care and community services providers, supporting communities in metro and regional areas for more than 40 years. Aged Care Services | At Home Services | Disability Services | Retirement Living
1300 660 640
news DECEMBER 2016
When leaders get better
The Global Leadership Summit was started by Illinois based Willow Creek Community Church with a vision of transforming Christian leaders around the world with an injection of vision, skill development and inspiration for the sake of the local church. In 2016, more than 300,000 leaders across 675 sites in 125 countries and 59 languages joined together for this year’s Leadership Summit. In Perth, over 400 pastors, ministry and business leaders came together at The Rocks church in Cannington to hear simulcast teaching from the likes of Melinda Gates, Bishop TD Jakes, Patrick Lencioni and leadership expert, John Maxwell.
An organisation will only be as healthy as its leader ... Inglewood Community Church’s Pastor Mark Edwards was present with a number of his ministry team. “I was encouraged to see so many of our states’ pastors there from a broad range of church backgrounds, but perhaps even more encouraging to see so many Baptist pastors and their teams there,” Mark said. Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world shared of her important belief that every
life has equal value and that this has caused the Gate’s family to put their money where their convictions are – US$36.7 billion to date. “We need to live out our values in the world,” Gates commented. Perennial speaker, Pastor Bill Hybels shared about leadership insights he has gained over the years and how his past work experiences affected his view of people when he began Willow Creek Community Church. He noted that coming from an environment that did not hold the highest value for people, it was easy to allow that thinking to influence his leadership style and that past experience with leaders can easily (and unknowingly) serve as a model for your leadership. “An organisation will only be as healthy as its leader,” Hybels reiterated. Carey Baptist Church Senior Pastor David Kilpatrick also attended the Perth event. “I was able to bring most of our church staff team to the Global Leadership Summit this year,” David said. “I was a little nervous about whether the team would consider it a good investment of their time given the significant demands they face at this time of year leading into Christmas.” “I should not have worried, the team loved it, were challenged, inspired and energised by the speakers. Being there together provided significant added value for the team and to myself,” he said. For more information, visit www.willowcreek.org.au
Photo: Willow Creek Community Church
“Everyone wins when a leader gets better” was a key message from Bill Hybels, Founder and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church that thread its way through the two days of the 2016 Global Leadership Summit.
Founder of the Global Leadership Summit, Pastor Bill Hybels shared leadership insights with over 300,000 leaders at this year’s Summit.
Care planning for the future
Having family gathered together over the Christmas season is a good opportunity for important conversations about the future, such as planning care for elderly parents whose needs may have changed over the years.
arise and provides peace of mind,” she said. “The key to good planning is to try taking a positive approach to meet everyone’s expectations and it’s always a good idea to revisit the plan a few times before making any decisions.” Baptistcare offers specialised residential aged and dementia care in Perth, Albany, Brookton, Busselton, Kellerberrin, Manjimup and Margaret River, respite care over the holiday season and home support services across WA. Level 1-4 Home Care Packages are also available. Private services are available for people not eligible for a Home Care Package.
As people get older and require care assistance there are options available depending on their needs and preferences, including home support services, respite care or residential aged care. Home services enables a person to maintain independence at home, such as cleaning, meals, transport, social activities, nursing and personal care. Residential aged care provides permanent accommodation for all levels of care, while
respite care offers short-term accommodation. Baptistcare At Home Services General Manager Deb Patterson explained that proactive discussions about care planning enable better decisions to be made ahead of time rather than under pressure in a crisis situation. “Letting your family and friends know what you want in the future helps everyone prepare for any emergencies that might
with the least amount necessary to keep us alive, He created a world capable of producing more than any human could possibly want.
when you are a perfect candidate for God’s strength to be strong through you.
jdgreear.com Whatever you are good at, do it well for the glory of God, and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.
thegospelcoalition.org Faith isn’t abstract; we put our faith in the promises of God, in the truth he has revealed. Scripture never promises believers they will be healthy or wealthy.
twitter.com/craiggroeschel When you can’t do any more and you’re about to give up, that’s
twitter.com/rickwarren God wants you to love real people, not ideal people.
twitter.com/CSLewisDaily I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer.
For more information, visit www.baptistcare.com.au
digital church 12/11/16
twitter.com/MaxLucado It’s Christ-mas. Not ‘shoppingmas’, ‘travel-mas’ or ‘party-mas’. Let Christ be honoured.
davidsantistevan.com Maintain a closeness with Jesus and approach each new day as an opportunity to see Him work. Don’t just ‘make it happen’. Pray it through.
Russell Fralick ourdailyjourney.org But if we compare our actions with those of others by focusing on their negative behaviours, we may end up elevating ourselves and doing what the Pharisee did in a parable Jesus told [Luke 18:9-10] – comparing ourselves to others in a selfrighteous way.
Tamara Hill Murphy thinkchristian.reframemedia. com Apparently, our Creator rejoices in the particulars of colour, shape and flavour, rather than bland generalities. His nature produces bounty, not scarcity. Rather than meeting our needs
Jon Bloom desiringgod.org It is possible to give thanks with heavy hearts in the midst of trouble. Trusting the Father by looking to Jesus [Hebrews 12:2], and remembering every promise is now ‘Yes’ to us in Him [2 Corinthians 1:20], will lighten our burden [Matthew 11:30]. 23/11/16
Prayer for justice
There are still communities without believers, without a church and without access to Scripture in their native language. These people will go from birth to death without the hope, joy and peace found in Jesus. Mission organisation Joshua Project states “While we enjoy an abundance of Christian teachers and resources, these are concentrated in the third of the world who already call themselves Christian. For those who have never heard the gospel we have dedicated less than one percent of Christian workers and resources.” Just Prayer began in 2011 to unite Baptists across Australia to focus on asking God to open up possibilities and opportunities for nine least-reached people groups where Global Interaction serves to encounter the love of God. Justice for least-reached people means that they must not miss out on the life-changing news of Jesus.
Hundreds of churches and individuals registered for Just Prayer this year and Global Interaction supplied creative resources to help involve people in praying for the least-reached people groups. Whilst their website is full of prayer ideas they are in no way prescriptive and participants are encouraged to adapt as appropriate. After over 130 years of working cross-culturally, Global Interaction has recognised the value of using a highly contextualised approach, based on biblical principles. Some Just Prayer ideas reflect the social and cultural practices of the least-reached groups amongst whom they work. These practices have been redeemed and incorporated by local believers in their own prayer practices. There have been prayer walks, cultural dinner parties, reflective musical moments as well as people setting alarms to remind them to pray each day.
Photo: Jan Coombs
In our world full of technology and travel opportunities it may shock you to know that 42 percent of the people on this earth have not heard the gospel due to cultural, linguistic and political barriers.
Just Prayer is a weekend to pray that barriers will be broken and that all people will have an opportunity to hear the gospel in a way that makes sense to them.
Bunbury and Maida Vale Baptist Churches held special prayer meetings, Lesmurdie Baptist Church focused on the leastreached during communion and Esperance Baptist Church used the people group information
to inform their prayers. The prayers at Eaton Baptist Church were inspired by a series of images and a presentation. “We are passionate about these groups being given an opportunity to hear about
Jesus,” Eaton Baptist Church member Ayla Elliott said. “We know that there is such a spiritual stronghold over these least-reached people that we need to intercede on their behalf.”
Baptists converge for annual event
Baptist Churches Western Australia (BCWA) Cross Cultural and Indigenous Ministries Consultant Reverend Victor Owuor was the keynote speaker and shared a message on ‘Rethinking our expectations’, based on a passage of Scripture in Luke 7. Victor challenged attendees to rethink their expectations of God and to make sure the expectations that were held of the Lord were “in sync with the purposes and plans the Lord has for us as individuals and as His church.” BCWA Director of Ministries Pastor Mark Wilson and the accreditation team were pleased to be able to present Western Australia Chin Christian Church Pastor Bawi Cin Davis as an accredited pastor with Baptist Churches Western Australia. Pastor Bawi immigrated to Australia with her family
as refugees due to political instability in Myanmar and felt a strong call to ministry when she arrived. This continues a strong family connection to ministry as both of Bawi’s grandfathers were Baptist pastors to the Chin people of Myanmar. Pastor Wilson, along with Vose Seminary Principal Rev. Dr Brian Harris were reappointed to their respective roles for a further five year term. Rev. Dr Harris in the Annual Report presented to the Assembly noted several significant milestones being reached at Vose Seminary in the past year, including the completion of the John Olley Centre, the airconditioning of the library, the launch of distance online degree programs, and the formation of a cohort for the Master of Education program run in cooperation with Morling College.
Photo: Mang Bawi Hnin
Over 300 pastors, ministry leaders and church delegates attended the 2016 Baptist Churches Western Australia Annual Assembly held in October at Carey Baptist Church in Harrisdale.
Pastor Bawi Cin Davis (front row, third from left) with members of the Western Australia Chin Christian Church at the 2016 BCWA Annual Assembly.
“These changes greatly enhance the work of the Seminary and thanks are owed to so many people,” Rev. Dr Harris said. Pastor Wilson in his tenth Annual Report to the Assembly noted his “gratefulness to God” for what had been achieved by Baptist churches during the preceding ten years. “Highlights over my preceding ten years of being the Director
of Ministries have included the South West Leavers Green Team ministry in Dunsborough, SportsFest, the formation of a new Relationship Agreement between churches and the Baptist Union, the development of a new vision and strategic goals, the coaching, mentoring and accreditation of pastors, the Fresh Conference for women raising over $872,413 for mission, development of the Safe
Church ministry and its adoption by churches and ministries, and stronger engagement with remote churches and multicultural churches,” Pastor Wilson said. “This was the largest group of people who had come to Assembly in some time and Baptist Churches Western Australia appears to be in a good position moving forward,” one attendee noted.
news DECEMBER 2016
Sponsor children in need
Haiti, which still has not recovered from the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010, was struck hard by Hurricane Matthew in early October as it moved across the Western Atlantic. The storm caused extensive flooding and mudslides, damage to roads and buildings, as well as electricity and water shortages. Compassion International partners with 293 churches in Haiti to help provide children with the opportunity “to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be”. Hurricane Matthew has had a devastating impact on its operations. More than 11,000 sponsor children and their homes were affected. 6,920 children have been moved to another location due to damage or destruction of their homes. The location and physical wellbeing of more than 100 sponsor children is still unknown.
Many of Compassion’s 270 child development centres, which provide support to more than 79,000 children, have been damaged. 87 centres had to be closed temporarily, 83 of which suffered significant damage or were destroyed. Miraculously, none of the child development centres which Compassion rebuilt following the 2010 earthquake were damaged, even though 14 were in the storm’s path. “Our primary short-term priorities include providing children and their families with food security and shelter, and to clean up and repair our church partner facilities in order to resume operation as quickly as possible,” Compassion Haiti’s country director Guilbaud Saint-Cyr said. Many Christian charity organisations have moved quickly to provide humanitarian
Photo: Compassion International
Hurricane Matthew has had a devastating impact on sponsor children, caregivers and child development centres in Haiti. As reported by Compassion International, three children, 33 caregivers and six siblings died and many have lost their homes.
A Compassion child stands in front of what is left of his home after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti.
support. They handed out food, bedding and hygiene kits to people living in shelters, and prepared tarpaulins and water containers. The Haitian Bible Society provided 200,000 copies of the scripture portion God is our Shelter and Strength and
2,000 copies of the New Testament to give comfort and hope to those in shock and mourning. Official United Nations numbers have confirmed 546 deaths and 438 injured as a result of the storm. In total, 2.1
American missionary charged
international briefs 21 Chibok school girls freed
On 14 August, three policemen walked into Don Ossewaarde’s Bible study, took Mr Ossewaarde to the police station and charged him with conducting missionary activities in violation of the new set of laws. Mr Ossewaarde was found guilty by a local court and fined 40,000 rubles ($840) that same day. He is currently awaiting a decision on his second appeal. The laws require religious organisations to obtain a permit for missionary activities and make it illegal to conduct these activities outside of officially recognised religious sites (The Advocate reported in September). Mr Ossewaarde and his lawyer argue that his specific case does not fall
Photo: Don Ossewaarde
An American missionary in Russia has been among the first Christians to be charged under the Yarovaya Laws, a new set of ‘antiterrorism’ laws which effectively regulates most religious activities in Russia.
Don and Ruth Ossewaarde have lived and served in Oryol, Russia for the past 14 years.
under the set of laws as he is not part of an officially recognised religious organisation. Mr Ossewaarde and his wife Ruth have seen hundreds of people walk through the door of their church house during their 14 years of ministry in Oryol, Russia. After the court ruling, Mrs Ossewaarde moved back to the United States as the court
appointed lawyer advised Mr Ossewaarde that “anything might happen to him and his family.” While Mr Ossewaarde has stopped any missionary activities following the court ruling, he is determined to stay in Russia for the time being and will take his case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
million Haitians have been affected, 894,000 of which are children. A new cholera outbreak threatens to worsen the situation as nearly 3,500 suspected cholera cases have been reported since the day the hurricane struck.
Twenty-one of the 275 school girls abducted in 2014 by Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria have been freed. While the BBC reported that the girls were released in exchange for Boko Haram militants, the Nigerian government has denied the exchange and called the release “the product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides”. In 2014, the abduction sparked a global outcry and the social media movement #BringBackOurGirls. Many of the predominantly Christian schoolgirls were reportedly forced to convert to Islam. It is feared that many have been sexually abused and forced into marriage. According to reports, most of the freed girls carried babies with them.
Bible Society registered in Azerbaijan Fresh optimism has come to the Christian minority in Azerbaijan, as the country’s first Bible Society gained registration after a 20 year fight. It is a cautious optimism since all literature either printed or imported by the Bible Society will remain subject to approval by the government.
While some confusion about the types of books which could pass the government’s strict regulations remains, Terje Hartberg from United Bible Societies called it “a great development, which will start a new chapter in Bible ministry for all Christians in Azerbaijan.”
Asia Bibi case delayed Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who is facing a death sentence for blasphemy in Pakistan, has to continue to wait for a decision on her case. The mother of five was to appear in court on 13 October for her final appeal, but the appeal was adjourned when one of the three judges in the case recused himself. According to Bibi’s lawyer, it will probably take months for the appeal to be rescheduled as a replacement judge has to be found. Bibi has spent the last seven years in prison and is currently in solitary confinement. She was sentenced to death in 2010 for allegedly insulting Muhammad following a row with Muslim women in her home village in Punjab, Pakistan. A global online petition seeking to release Asia Bibi has been signed by more than half a million people to date.
Radio builds community values
The Health Communication Resources (HCR) team, Dane Waters and his wife Celeste Larkins are based in Geraldton and travel a circuit each month to Carnarvon and Meekatharra, with several stops on the way, spending up to a week in each location. The couple gather and record the stories of local people, giving a voice to the marginalised and forgotten and inspiring and building hope in people. The recordings become part of Radio MAMA’s (100.5 FM) programming throughout the region. Radio MAMA (Midwest Aboriginal Media Association) is part of the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and are based in Geraldton. Dane and Celeste also train radio presenters like educator Matthew Anderson in Meekatharra where his voice and radio skills shine in the local community. Radio programs deal with mental health, suicide and domestic violence. “There seems to be little purpose for the people. No hope in some places. There’s a high rate of suicide,” Celeste said.
“We’re finding the further north and inland we go from Geraldton, the more forgotten and isolated people are,” Dane said. “We’re seeing significant lacks in resources in these places in education and housing.” “We support groups that have community strategy to increase community cohesion and interagency cooperation,” he said. Workshops help people refine the messages that need to be shared in their community and develop a united voice to communicate to service providers the real needs that need to be addressed. Founder of HCR Ross James has seen communities in Africa, Asia, Pakistan and in Aboriginal communities in Western Australia change through using community radio. “Community radio can transform lives. Local people talking about things that have impacted their lives, choices that they’ve made to change behaviour, to adopt new attitudes – that’s where social change really begins to happen,” Ross said. At a recent community fun day, the Emu Cup Fun Day and Family Concert in Yalgoo
Photo: Jill Birt
Health Communication Resources is using local media to help strengthen communities in the Mid West, Gascoyne and Murchison regions of Western Australia.
Celeste Larkins and her husband Dane Waters are using community media in regional Western Australia to address social issues.
(499 km north-north-east of Perth), Dane and Celeste worked with Radio MAMA running an outside broadcast from the event.
“We chatted on air with lots of children, a well-known Indigenous hip-hop artist, Bryte MC, as well as lots of community members,” Celeste said.
Some of the interviews will feature in future editions of the Listen Live Geraldton broadcast on Radio MAMA 100.5 FM on Mondays at 11am.
Bookkeeping skills for Zambians
The visit, which was requested by Global Interaction Consultant Keith Gallagher, with promotion from Baptist churches in Zambia and sponsored by Add-Ministry Inc. in Perth, enabled over 100 treasurers to improve their bookkeeping skills. Three of the courses were based around Fiwale Hill, near Ndola, where an accountant from the Northern Baptist Association of Zambia provided interpretation services. The first course attracted a group of 32 locals who gathered at Chiwala North Church, 1.5 hours’ drive away. The second course was held at Matiba Church, one hour drive south of Fiwale, and was attended by 35 students.
The anticipated numbers for the four courses had already been exceeded and extra copies of the course notes were printed. The third group of 12 students met at Fiwale Hill Bible College, where better facilities meant the course was able to be completed in one day. The final course at Malambanyama (near Lusaka) drew 24 students and a new interpreter, due to the different language area. The examples used were relevant to small businesses and churches, and both Shirley and Brian reported the courses were worthwhile for the attendees who were keen to use their new skills to help them improve their businesses.
Photo: Shirley Fourie
Shirley Fourie from Lesmurdie Baptist Church and Brian Read from Morley Baptist Church recently travelled to Zambia to teach basic bookkeeping skills to local church treasurers.
Zambian local church treasurers receiving training in basic bookkeeping.
feature DECEMBER 2016
A new group in the community is facing homelessness: Single women over 50 years of age who have little superannuation and do not own property.
You won’t sur
living on A C Jill Birt
Government agencies and not-for-profit organisations in Western Australia are seeing older women facing homelessness in increasing numbers. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2011 Census revealed a 12 percent increase from the 2006 Census of women who are vulnerable financially and experiencing homelessness. Many things can trigger homelessness and poverty for older women. Mental health, insecure casual work, relationship breakdown, domestic violence, debt, bullying by adult children, along with unexpected or crisis medical issues, unwise financial investment and unaffordable housing can tip the balance for single women over the age of 50. These are the women born at the end of the baby boomer era. Many have stayed at home and cared for their children rather than pursuing a career. Of those who have worked, they have received much lower wages than their male counterparts and have little superannuation. Rhonda Livingstone, Team Leader at UnitingCare West’s Financial Services in Perth said her team is currently dealing with $10 to $20 million of personal debt each month. “We’re seeing an increasing number of people declaring bankruptcy each month as people discover they have overstretched during the mining boom and now they cannot service all of their personal and property loans,” Rhonda said. Older women who are struggling financially are another group Rhonda’s team engage with. Often they are homeless, sleeping in their car, couch surfing with friends and family or sleeping on
the streets. They have no fixed address. “We talk with women who are homeless because of unwise financial choices. Others leave everything to escape domestic violence. Sometimes this has been ongoing for years and they finally reach the point where they can endure it no longer,” Rhonda said. “Debt with elderly single women is usually lower than for families. For some older women debt is often sexually transmitted where the perpetrator has taken out multiple credit cards in her name (by bullying her) and ‘maxed’ them all, leaving her solely responsible for repayment. We see this with middle income earners,” she said. Other women, including many older Aboriginal women, are working and responsible for all household debt, rent, utilities and food. Something happens and they find themselves without a home. A medical crisis requiring ongoing treatment can cause a woman with no financial savings to be homeless in about six weeks. Counsellors at UnitingCare West Financial Services advocate with banks, credit providers and utilities for women as well as outlining options for them to work through their debt. Many women do not seek help until they are desperate. Often they arrive at their first financial counselling appointment, clutching a plastic bag of unopened bills. Initially they even need help to work out priorities and evaluate their outstanding bills. Janet* was 58 when she finally started looking for help. She had already made lifestyle decisions to limit expenses, choosing a mobile phone over
food and registering her ageing car but not insuring the vehicle because she lives in country WA and needs transport to travel to job interviews. Fear and shame kept her from asking for help. A number of churches in Western Australia are offering help to people in financial trouble with the Christians Against Poverty program. Over the past 12 months they have helped 7,854 people and 324 families are now debt free.
Affordable housing Housing affordability is a dominant cause of homelessness for people who become homeless later in life. Census data from 2011 shows 14 percent of the homeless nationally are aged over 55. Systems developed in the 1980s to support homelessness were not designed to address the unique problems of ageing. The age pension is designed for a couple who own their own home. The $213 a week available for a single person is proving inadequate when rents are so high. Some women in Perth are paying $170 a week for a bedroom in a house where they share the kitchen and bathroom. Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans warned of a surge of older women becoming homeless because of a lack of affordable housing. “Affordable housing is key to both preventing homelessness and moving people out of homelessness when it occurs,” Catherine said. “The risk of homelessness for older women can be greatly reduced by adequate provision of housing that is affordable on the aged pension, suitable to their needs, and allows them to age in
their own place. That way they can live independently in the community, with support in their homes if needed.” “For older women who do not own homes outright, the pension is increasingly inadequate to cover rental or mortgage costs, especially in major cities,” she said. Lack of stable, affordable housing magnifies personal needs including mental health, connectedness to community and financial stress. Cameron Parsell, Research Fellow at The University of Queensland, compared the cost of government assistance to chronically homeless people with the cost of providing permanent supportive housing. “People used $13,000 less in government-funded services when securely housed compared to the services they used when they were chronically homeless,” Cameron said. Mission Australia has urged Commonwealth, state and territory governments to fund at least 200,000 new social homes by 2025 and undertake capital works programs to update existing social infrastructure. Currently the waiting time for public housing for older single women is approximately ten years. Government programs are not the only way to support vulnerable older women. Kensington Street Transitional Accommodation Program in East Perth aims to provide low cost, safe accommodation for females aged 55 years or over who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The team which is part of St Bartholomew’s House, assists homeless women to rebuild their lives and prevent homelessness in the future. Women can live at their inner city
feature DECEMBER 2016
rvive Cup OF Soup properties for up to 12 months while they work through issues of debt and homelessness. Delia’s* marriage ended abruptly when her husband walked out almost a decade ago. Now almost 50, and after her two children left the family home about two years ago, Delia found herself alone in a 4 x 2 home in the northern suburbs of Peth. Currently studying at university with very limited income, she decided to look for some boarders. This was not simply a financial move. “I wanted to offer a safe place to a couple of women who were homeless or vulnerable to homelessness,” Delia said. Through social media connections, Delia interviewed two women and invited them to share her home. One left the house within six months, while the second is enjoying the security of a safe home. Delia receives some income and has company. She is also helping provide affordable housing for a vulnerable woman. “I’ll probably look for someone else to share my home shortly. It takes quite a bit of effort to find people who you ‘fit’ with,” Delia said.
Not just a roof over your head UnitingCare West CEO Sue Ash sees the lack of affordable housing as only one pressure older women experience. “If you don’t have the resources, either financial, equipment or connections to keep up with the changes in our community, then you experience a poverty that is much more complex. It’s a poverty of existence,” Sue said.
“The new poor are experiencing poverty of existence. It impacts mental health, capacity to solve problems and to contribute to your community. It’s subtle, insidious and it’s difficult to understand and address,” she said. Banking, Centrelink and Medicare all require internet access which becomes a significant item on already stretched budgets for older single women. Keeping up with changes to technology is challenging and scary for many women. “When I left full-time work I was up to speed with computers and phone technology. Two years later, I feel like I’m falling into a black hole, but I know I have to try to keep up. I just don’t know who to turn to for help,” widowed 62 year old Ellen* said. “I own my home, but there are times when I feel very vulnerable and wonder how I’ll cope and where I’ll live when I’m old.” “I have to take my fears to Jesus many mornings and trust Him. My children love me and encourage me, but I don’t want to be a burden to them,” she said. Ellen’s experience is similar to many women. “When I meet with other women in a similar situation, I try to talk openly about how I’m travelling because I know they are struggling too. When you keep stuff bottled up inside it becomes way more powerful than it really is,” Ellen said.
Engaging the Church Churches across Australia have ageing congregations. In Melbourne 2016 ABS research shows that for every ten people in their 70s in a local church, there will be just one person in their 20s.
In church communities, many older women volunteered during their middle years, spending many hours each week running ministries in the church and community. They work well in teams. Connectedness is a key to good mental health. As church congregations age there will be increasing opportunities for cross generational engagement, but it will not just happen automatically. Leaders will need to look for opportunities to have young and older people serve together and offer support and encouragement. Churches can be aware of the issues of voluntary isolation by being on the lookout for older people withdrawing because of financial limitations or the fear of not being able to contribute in an ‘acceptable’ manner. Running programs that require significant financial contributions may also marginalise some older single women. Churches can engage with the issues by considering affordable housing options like Tiny Houses Australia in their immediate area, advocating for the homeless with local politicians, and ensuring there are cross generational opportunities for fellowship and worship across the life of the church where young and old can connect. For more information: Christians Against Poverty www.capaust.org * Names changed for privacy reasons.
10 news DECEMBER 2016
Christians persecuted in shelters
Open Doors Germany is calling on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to improve the situation of Christian asylum seekers in Germany. between May and September 2016. The attacks include death threats, violent attacks and sexual assaults committed by fellow refugees and guards. Most of the Christian refugees see separate accommodation for members of religious minorities as the best solution to improve their security while living in the asylum seeker shelters.
... hundreds of asylum seekers who are living in temporary asylum seeker homes have reported discrimination, death threats and attacks ... Despite the urging by Open Doors and other Christian organisations, the German government is slow to act upon the allegations. While the federal government announced a prompt inquiry to determine necessary measures to guarantee
Photo: Jazzmany / Shutterstock.com
As part of a recent survey, hundreds of asylum seekers who are living in temporary asylum seeker homes have reported discrimination, death threats and attacks because of their Christian faith. Their situation has been described as “unbearable”. Since September 2015, when Germany opened its borders to refugees fleeing Syria, the country has struggled to cope with the influx of close to a million asylum seekers entering the country. The processing of those seeking asylum has proven to be slow, resulting in increased frustrations, criticism and a heated political climate in Germany over the last few months. Since then, hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers have been living in gymnasiums and other temporary shelters, as not enough appropriate accommodation was available to accommodate the masses. A challenging confined living situation in itself, it has been even more difficult for asylum seekers who have fled persecution and discrimination as a religious minority in their Islamic home country. According to Open Doors Germany, 743 Christian refugees have reported religiously motivated attacks
A 10 year old boy in a refugee camp in Passau, Germany who travelled by himself from Iraq to Germany.
the safety of refugees, it did not address how religious minorities in particular would receive protection. The federal state governments, holding the main responsibility for accommodating asylum seekers, stated that there had been no official reports of religiously motivated attacks between refugees. This caused them to question whether the
allegations were only brought forward by some to obtain better accommodation than others. Open Doors Germany has called upon Christians in Germany to pray for refugees and engage with them whenever they can. Due to heavy regulations, it has been difficult for individuals to offer accommodation to refugees while their case is being
processed. Some churches and individual believers have however tackled the bureaucracy associated with accommodating refugees and have successfully given a home to a brother or sister in need.
US Christians called to heal bitter divide
Following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, many Christian leaders have called their nation to move forward and heal what has been divided. “The church will have credibility where she fights for diversity, loves the poor and welcomes the immigrant,” Lead Teaching Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church, Dallas, tweeted. Despite the controversy around his candidacy prior to the election, four out of five white evangelicals voted for Trump at the election on 8 November, Christianity Today reported.
Photo: Anthony Heflin
On the morning of the election, author Eugene Cho encouraged his Twitter followers: “Whatever happens today. Jesus will still remain King. And we have much Kingdom work to do.” Others used social media to work against shame and hatred as a light in times of uncertainty. “This may be the first time we as a nation can begin to heal. We are fractured. But we can heal,” Associate Pastor John Gray of Lakewood Church, Houston, tweeted.
After one of its most heated elections in history, the United States is facing the difficult challenge of uniting what has been divided.
feature 11 DECEMBER 2016
Pornography is a serious problem that is having a devastating impact on how young people view sexual relationships. Evidence shows that men who engage in viewing pornography have a greater acceptance of sex outside of marriage, increased acceptance of sex before marriage, and less interest in having children and being a dad. In 56 percent of divorce cases, pornography is listed as a major contributing factor to the breakdown of the marriage. On a deeper level, the neurological and biological systems work the way they are supposed to in marriage with your spouse. With each sexual embrace with a spouse the body experiences a high, an alertness of sexual pleasure, and the deep calm afterwards. In other words, with each sexual embrace you are emotionally bonding to one another. However, when someone views pornography, instead of forming a deep connection to a person, their brain ‘bonds’ to the pornographic material. They ‘train the body’ so that it habitually seeks out this kind of material in order to satisfy the physical craving. In effect, by using porn they are training their biological self toward objectifying their spouse, unfaithfulness, promiscuity, and betrayal. Many people think that pornography itself is the problem, however, what popular media says about pornography is equally as troublesome. It is portrayed as a trivialised and glamorised activity in sitcoms, movies and music videos. These are powerful mediums that educate our children on what are the acceptable norms within Western culture. In 2011, the AU Kids Online survey results (9-16 years) was paralleled with the European Union’s EU Kids Online survey. Two in five (44 percent) Australian children had seen sexual images in the past year, almost double the EU average of 23 percent. What is more troubling is that 90 percent of all teenagers (12-17 years) have been exposed to hardcore pornography, and once exposed, many keep going back to it. Ultimately, what this means is if you don’t take the initiative to set the foundation for your child’s understanding of sexuality, then the world will. However, there is hope, research in Australia has highlighted that children’s first preference is to talk to their
parents about sex. Though often they don’t with the main barrier being embarrassment from both sides. Comfort and knowledge have been identified as key factors for parents in their ability to effectively communicate about sexuality with their children. It is not just about what the parents’ views are but why they hold these views. It is also parents enabling a consistent space for open dialogue, providing bite-size pieces of information their child can digest. If children understand the reasons for their parents views they are far more likely to adopt them and honour them. Research has shown that first impressions have a profound effect on our everyday lives. We use them to determine who we should approach and who we should avoid. The information you give a child will set the standard by which they will judge all other information on sexuality. The ideal to battling pornography would be a whole community approach, however, the reality is that on a community and government level little is done. One practical way that can help is for parents to be involved in their local schools and to have the issue raised. The Christian worldview of holding sexuality exclusively within the confines of marriage is a critical place to start. It is the answer to the cry of every human heart for that deep intimacy of being known and loved; the most intimate of relationships bound by loyalty, honour, trust, and total commitment to one another. This healthy expression of sexuality within marriage leads to neurological and biological bonding. On a broader level, it provides the surest foundation for intimacy, permanency, security and stability in society, creating a safe, nurturing and loving environment for children to grow up in. However, we need to be sensitive to this issue and discuss that things can and do go wrong. There is a need for sensitivity, particularly for those who have not had an ideal upbringing, and for those whose marriages have not succeeded. Peter Thomson is a father of two young boys and has been a counsellor working with prisoners for many years. Peter’s heart in writing this article is out of concern for the generation of children we are raising up. Statistics and opinions incorporated in this article are based on research from the following sources: Influence of Unrestrained Access to Erotica on Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality Generation XXX: Pornography acceptance and use among emerging adults
Photo: Brian A Jackson
Protecting your kids from porn
Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours Parents and Sex Education: Parents’ attitudes to sexual health education in WA schools
Pornography and Violence: A new look at the research Risks and safety for Australian children on the internet: Full findings from the AU Kids Online survey of 9-16 year olds and their parents
Pornography’s Effects on Interpersonal Relationships The Porn Circuit: Understand your brain and break porn habits in 90 days
Special Christmas events A selection of Christmas events planned throughout WA in the coming weeks:
Austin Cove Community Church
Morley Baptist Church
Christmas Community Breakfast Sunday 25 December Registration from 8am and program from 8.30am to 10am Inlet Boulevard, South Yunderup For anyone who needs a little joy in their day and would like to celebrate Christmas in community.
Christmas Festival with Carols Sunday 11 December Food and entertainment from 5pm and Carols by Candlelight starting at 7pm. 33 Hanwell Way, Bassendean
Beaumaris Community Baptist Church Carols in the Park Saturday 10 December Christmas carols start at 7.30pm Sir James McCusker Park, Iluka Children’s activities, including sausage sizzle and drinks available for purchase from 5pm.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Carols by Candlelight Sunday 11 December Pre-festival commences at 5pm followed by carols from 7.30pm to 8.30pm. Centennial Park, Kalgoorlie
Mandurah Baptist College Lakelands Community Carols Sunday 4 December Carols commence at 6pm inside The Lakes Theatre Family Festival from 4pm to 6pm with a petting zoo, bouncy castle, photo booth, carol singers, mechanical surfboard, face painters, food vans and more. For more information, phone 08 9581 1980
Riverton Baptist Community Church Carols by Sunset Sunday 11 December Sausage sizzle from 6pm and carols from 7pm. Shelley foreshore For more information, phone 08 9457 6135
Yangebup Baptist Church Carols Night Saturday 17 December Carols commence 7pm 6 Mainsail Terrace, Yangebup Children’s games, tea and coffee, Christmas videos and a great time singing traditional Christmas carols together.
12 growth DECEMBER 2016
Something about the silent treatment
Her silence has been a means of treating vocal nodules that have been developing on her vocal cords. Perhaps it’s a consequence of having greater singing ability than talking technique but, whatever the antecedent, the treatment plan we’ve been working with over the last three weeks has been complete silence. The ultimate silent turkey. It’s more than worth a shot. Singing brings Fi a whole lot of joy as it does for many who hear her, or are led in worship by her in different contexts. For her, it’s one of the primary ways in which she is able to enjoy and draw near to God – sometimes in group settings, often on her own with a guitar on the sofa. The woman also likes talking quite a bit so while the potential restoration that may be brought about by the treatment is more than worth it, it hasn’t been without some fun times along the way. Over the past few weeks, we’ve moved through a small mountain of wire-bound notepads. They’re dotted around the house. We’ve developed a rudimentary code language – a simplified hybrid of charades, pictograms, and sign language. Along with this, there has been obedience incentives for the girls that were established before the quiet winter began. Meetings, logistics and daily conversations have all been roads to navigate together. Predicting what she might be meaning and gauging her frustration by the size of her handwriting and when it moved to capital letters has also been fun. We figured before we kicked off the silent treatment that we’d learn a few things before we were done. We weren’t wrong. It turns out that when someone close to you can’t talk, your first assumption is that you can’t either. I found myself responding to Fi without words as well. Gesticulating, sub vocalising, and generally using as few words as possible. Mainly, I’d catch myself doing this and then need to remember that it was her getting the silent treatment, not me. I could still talk.
Photo: Simon Elliott
My wife, Fiona, hasn’t spoken to me in almost three weeks. At all.
The whole house has been pretty quiet for a few weeks now. The level of noise from our two daughters and the number of arguments between them has plummeted. Or at least been muted significantly. Mostly, peace has reigned. The girls are perceptive. They are aware of the basic range of requests and requirements that might be on the cards and they became quickly perceptive as to what these might be given the situation. (A couple of handclaps from downstairs) Clover: “Do you want us to come down for dinner?” (Another handclap) Clover: “Okay, Mummy, we’re coming down now.” or (A couple of handclaps from downstairs) Clover: “Do you want us to come down for dinner?” (Three more handclaps) Clover: “Oh, you don’t? You want us to get into the shower??” (Three more handclaps) Clover (voice coming closer to the stairs, more frustrated now): “I don’t know what it is you want, Mummy. Tell me.” The girls didn’t need hours of briefing for those responses. They knew something was up and changed the way they
communicated accordingly. Most of us are more perceptive than we realise when it comes to communication. We realised again that when all of our communication is at one volume or over one medium, there’s no nuance. While this thought may be lost on purveyors of the heavy metal genre, most people get this. Colour and shade, tension and release, these contrasts not only bring meaning and clarity, they also move the listener. I found myself working more closely alongside Fi in the last few weeks because it was in being close to her that I could gain the greatest understanding of what she wanted or wanted to communicate. That gets a bit annoying after a while, but it makes more sense of what James means when he writes ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you’. There’s a whole lot about the posture of our listening and the anticipation of hearing that puts us in the place of receiving and deriving meaning from the communicator. I remember a mate of mine saying that his daughter was prone to throwing tantrums at night. His strategy was to whisper to her. Of course, she
couldn’t hear him while she was screaming, but an awareness that someone (her Daddy) was trying to comfort her caused her to tune in to Daddy’s frequency of communication. It necessitated dialling down the histrionics to hear the gentle, calming whisper. It quietened her. There’s few of us who couldn’t benefit from this approach from time to time. When we run to God with our shouts, complaints, and deprecations, He always listens, but He doesn’t always respond at the same deafening volume as the one we’re using. He wants us to hear. He is patient with us and wants to bring peace and assurance. Oftentimes, God wants us to know that amidst the turmoil and the chaos, He is God. His command, as with the wind and the waves: “Be still and know that I am God”. While we’re talking, I think that Fi has had to learn how to deal with frustration a little more as well. You can’t just yell out in displeasure. You have to deal with it and that demands striving for peace or a more gentle way of communicating truth without losing perspective and letting go of the original goal. Fi is now emerging out the other side. Quiet words are
being spoken. No yelling (so far), no harsh words. There’s a pivotal moment in Ecclesiastes once Solomon is done with his manyworded pronouncements of meaninglessness. He comes to a place of right thinking and quiet acceptance. ‘Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.’ [Ecclesiastes 5:2] Solomon is not saying ‘don’t talk to God’ or even ‘don’t talk to Him very much’. He’s heading somewhere far deeper. Solomon is saying that in our frustration, in our exasperation and bluster, it does us well to quieten down and gain a sober perspective of the greatness and sovereignty of the God of all creation in the midst of my vapour-like myopia. He is more than capable of hearing our shouts of exclamation, but a realisation of his eternal perspective in the midst of our circumstance is a prompt to listen not talk – to hear the one who calms the raging sea and hear the song that He continues to sing over us. Reprinted with permission from writesomething.org.au
growth 13 DECEMBER 2016
More and more we are being warned to be on heightened alert for someone trying to obtain our credit card, driver’s licence, pin numbers and passwords in order to get enough information to steal and use our identity. I saw a TV commercial with a man driving a bus saying someone had tried to steal his identity. He was encouraging all of us to get insurance so we would be covered, should it ever happen. Several years ago, at Christmas, one of our daughters was with her family shopping in a San Francisco store when her wallet was lifted from her purse, subsequently causing major issues. A different kind of identity theft Let’s talk about another kind of ‘identity theft’ … one that is far more serious, with longer and more significant consequences … your identity in Jesus. Satan is always trying to mess with my identity in Christ by telling me lies … by accusing me of things that cause me to question where I stand in
Photo: Rob Hyrons
Someone is trying to steal your identity!
relationship with Him. Two of Satan’s names are ‘Father of Lies’ and the ‘Accuser of the Brothers’. Some of the lyrics of the old song ‘Before the throne of God above’ read: ‘When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within.’ That’s what he does … pulls on me/you and drags us down in guilt and despair; trying to get us to doubt or question our secure identity in Christ. A second way we can have our identity in Jesus compromised
is to substitute it with a false saviour, an idol … depending on something/someone else to give us what only Jesus can provide. My heart is an idol factory and any number of potential idols can replace Jesus and provide a false identity that just won’t cut it. Financial security, good health and being well thought of are three idols that can easily take the place of Jesus in my heart and life … things that begin to mean more to me than He does.
Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV) captures this thought well: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Idols are broken cisterns, buckets with big holes. The biblical truth is that I don’t need insurance to protect my identity in Jesus … my identity was purchased on
the cross and I don’t need any other insurance/assurance. ‘On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.’ (Edward Mote) So, yes, be careful of who has your social security, driver’s licence and credit card numbers; but be equally protective of your identity in Jesus, which is far more precious. Used with permission from Dave Kraft, www.davekraft.org
The Bible at Christmas Amy Stopher
Christmas is coming, and with it a flurry of activity in our churches as we seek to make Christ known. In the lead up my church is hosting an evangelistic event for women. Often involving seasonal fun, these events can be a relatively easy invite, and well attended. I’m preparing a short Bible talk to deliver on the night as I’m convinced it’ll help us make the most of the opportunity. Here are six reasons why: 1. It’ll keep us on message. In our evangelism we want to introduce people to Jesus. The Scriptures are all about Him. What better way to achieve our goal than by having the Bible read and explained. At Christmas, this is pretty straightforward too, as we read accounts of Jesus’ birth and prophecies of His coming. 2. It shows the Bible is our authority. It’s tempting to go light on the Bible at a Christmas event in order to make the talk accessible for our guests. After all, it is a bit weird to
have someone read a chunk of text to you, and then explain it line by line. But, by walking through a particular passage of Scripture, we appropriately show the Bible to be the authority on what we believe. It pulls the attention away from me and my credibility as the speaker, and points to the text as a historical document, and the Word of God. 3. It’ll teach people how to read the Bible. One of the best ways for people to consider the claims of Jesus is to read the Bible. A Bible talk gives us an opportunity to show our guests how to understand the Bible as they read it. And, it’s an opportunity to keep teaching the women of our church how to read the Bible too.
4. It’ll help us avoid sentimentality. Nostalgia and sentimentality are hallmarks of the commercial Christmas. Without noticing, these traits can find their way into our Christmas evangelism. But they don’t belong there. The gospel is significant news. It brings great joy, yet is serious and weighty, having lifealtering implications. That’s not to say our event won’t be fun, warm and steeped in Christmas tradition. And beautiful, creative and joyful. But, it will also be substantial. 5. It’s more interesting! The Bible is interesting. It’s surprising, and beautiful, and dramatic. This is especially true of the Gospels. A talk
which explains a passage, noticing the detail of what’s on the page before us, will be more interesting than a talk full of personal anecdotes. Of course, a passage can be explained in a way that is dry. But where there’s curiosity, and an eye for seeing the text as a first-time reader, the Bible wins every time. 6. It’s good to feed women meat. Finally, as those for whom Christ died, we want women to be robust in their faith; to know what they believe and why, and to be growing in their ability to explain it to others. We serve women well, both inquirers and believers, when we explain God’s Word to them, showing them what it says and why it matters. This year, I’m going to speak on a passage of Scripture at our Christmas event. Doing so will ensure that amidst the baked goods and the ribbon, the Word that gives life will go out and, by God’s grace, take root in the hearts of women.
Photo: Providence City Church
Amy Stopher is an Associate Pastor at Providence City Church.
14 news DECEMBER 2016
Carols by streetlight
98five Music Director Chela Williams
“It is now a movement amongst Christian churches of all denominations to sing the Christmas story into the heart of the community during the week before Christmas,” Astrid explained. “Many communities in Australia have forgotten the real story of Christmas, the one where we get given the most amazing gift of all.” The love of Christmas carols runs deep in Astrid and started from a very young age. “As a child I always loved singing them. Now, as an adult, I have a whole new love for their message,” Astrid said. “Carols are really powerful, they share the extraordinary story of Christmas and make us wonder what it was like to be there that first Christmas.”
Carols by Streetlight began in 2014 when two groups set out from a church to sing the gospel to their neighbourhoods. Since then, neighbourhoods all over Australia have been welcoming carol singers in their street. “We’ve often found people coming out of their house to listen and say hi,” Astrid explained. “Imagine how nice it is for a carol group to pause for a song at your letterbox? And maybe bring the Christmas spirit to a neighbour who can’t get out into the community themselves.” Astrid fervently believes the Christmas story doesn’t end at just simply singing some festive songs. “The Christmas story brings our community together for a festive season that reminds us to care for one another,” Astrid said. “If more people understood the true significance of Christmas, our communities would be filled with the life, love and joy that was the hallmark of the first Christmas. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Carols by Streetlight could herald a new season of joy in people?”
After hearing the sound of a small number of carollers in her street one Christmas, Astrid Priest was moved at the thought of joyful Christmas carols filling the streets of Australia. Astrid shared this thought with several people and Carols by Streetlight was born.
Young Hannah singing at 2015’s Carols by Streetlight.
James Morrison visits Carey
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The seven Carey graduates that have been accepted into the James Morrison Academy of Music for 2017: Pierson Snowsill (trumpet), Mitchell Wilmot (saxophone), Jordan Warwick (drums), Jayden Blockley (saxophone), Jackson Van Ballegooyen (piano), Samuel Newman (drums), Mr James Morrison and William Pethick (trombone).
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Carey Baptist College Director of Music Scott Loveday was awarded the Wenger Band Directors Award at the 2016 Generations in Jazz event earlier this year, earning his school a visit and masterclass by multi-instrumental Australian jazz musician James Morrison. “Wow, there is such a jazz culture. It’s like it’s got a real jazz life. I met a bunch of your soloists and I had to say, that’s too many soloists in one school to be a coincidence,” Morrison said.
“You know, there’s got to be something that’s being created that allows that to develop. Your band director has created a culture that allows people to flourish … I’m really with that kind of spirit … that’s how it
felt with the people I’ve heard coming out at Carey.” Seven graduates have been accepted into the prestigious James Morrison Academy of Music in 2017.
intermission 15 DECEMBER 2016
A minute with ...
Photo: Mako van der Moezel
Before Amen Max Lucado Do you struggle with prayer? Do your prayers feel like a checklist rather than a heart connection with God? Do you feel guilty about your prayers? If the answer to any of these questions is yes or there are more on your mind, consider Max Lucado’s Before Amen as he addresses these issues and more in a plain and simple way. Using the biblical example of when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Max Lucado provides a pocket prayer – a quotable, repeatable portable prayer – for use in everyday life. He shows how to get back to the root of a simple, yet heartfelt, prayer. Before Amen is a great book for anyone in need of a fresh reminder of why we pray, how we can approach God in prayer and those needing to gain confidence that God does actually hear our prayers.– Alison
Mako van der Moezel with his wife Jessamy
Mako van der Moezel, Broome Baptist Church Pastor
More Than Dreams
What led you to this role? God. Having felt the Lord’s leading several months ago out of where we were, my wife, Jessamy, and I spent the next few months waiting on Him. Eventually it seemed clear God was pointing to Broome … so to Broome we went.
More Than Dreams is a documentary that looks at a recurring phenomenon across the Muslim world where Muslims are seeking the true God and they have a dream or vision of Jesus. People from a range of countires – Egypt, Iran, Nigeria and more – are interviewed regarding their personal experience. These amazing stories give viewers hope that the Lord is alive and pressing into the Muslim culture and shows how He is moving across the world even where it is forbidden to talk of Him. An inspiring DVD of real-life stories that will touch viewers’ hearts and can be used as an outreach tool as the people give testimony in their own language. A great ministry tool as well as an inspiration to all. – Karen
What is a feature of your church or ministry you’d like to share? The authority of the Word of God. That’s where it all starts and anything I do is built upon it. As such I seek not to make church converts or Mako supporters but disciples of Jesus Christ. We want to be about building His Kingdom not our own. Also, I’m going to bring shorts back. What do you think God has been trying to say to you lately? Go to Broome … the other thing is simply His call to His church. Make disciples. Tell us about the pieces of technology, apps and software that help you the most. I do have and recommend the Creation Ministries International app (and website) which is gold and a much-needed proclamation to the church today. It’s great for equipping myself, the saints and in witnessing to the lost. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? The understanding, submission and love of/to God’s Word, and it should always be growing. A final thought … Watch the DVD Fallout! by Creation Ministries International, its vital information for pastors, leaders and parents. Also, if you want to wear shorts just know you’re not alone.
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listen Let There Be Light Hillsong Another great praise and worship album by Hillsong, Let There Be Light has fresh new songs that leads listeners into the presence of God as they seek Him and is also perfect for church settings. With powerful lyrics reminding listeners who Jesus is and His desire that all should be saved and live in relation with Him. The reverence of ‘What A Beautiful Name’ brings listeners back to the feet of Jesus, but is also a reminder that He is not an impotent lifeless God but that He is powerful and present in people’s lives. The prayerful lyrics of the title song bring us to our knees in awe of a merciful and gracious God. I was also reminded by the line ‘Open the eyes of the blind’ that the soul of the unbeliever is not just lost but blinded to the truth of who Jesus is and the life that can be attained by knowing Him. – Dorothy
16 news DECEMBER 2016
Photo: Sascha Wenninger
Better than a premiership
A large crowd gathered at the Melbourne Cricket Ground ahead of an AFL game.
The 2016 AFL Grand Final had millions of Australian Rules fans glued to the on-field action between Sydney Swans and Western Bulldogs. But for an AFL superstar who has won two premierships (and two Brownlow Medals, the code’s highest honour), there is something greater than winning a Grand Final. “It’s not necessarily about performing, or about playing finals footy, or winning premierships. That’s all a bonus,” Gold Coast Suns Captain Gary Ablett Jr said. Ablett Jr, Gold Coast Suns midfielder Aaron Hall, Geelong Cats ruckman Zac Smith and GWS Giants ruckman Dawson Simpson spoke with the Bible Society Australia’s Eternity about what they believe to be bigger than AFL success. Similar to high-profile NRL players who have prayed before matches and shared their Christian faith, Ablett Jr agrees that there is something greater than winning and that is the difference Jesus makes. “It’s about sharing the good news of Jesus,” reveals Ablett Jr, about his primary goal. “Jesus changed my life and I’m just so thankful for all He’s done for me.” Ablett Jr, Hall, Smith and Simpson are Christian mates who support each other, despite club rivalries. Their common experience of having priorities realigned by Jesus has brought them together.
Hall credits his Christian faith with helping him through some of his toughest times ... Hall had personal issues, including depression, when he was trying to establish his AFL career. Some of his teammates, including Ablett Jr, invited Hall to church. He went along and was so struck by what he came to know about Jesus, he became a Christian in 2013. Hall credits his Christian faith with helping him through some of his toughest times, from gambling addiction to major injuries. “Football doesn’t define who I am,” states Hall. “I get my identity from Jesus Christ. The lows aren’t as low any more and the highs are even higher.” To watch a video interview with the players, visit bit.ly/aflchristians Reprinted with the permission from Eternity. Original article published 30 September 2016.
Pro surfer finds strength in God’s Word
Former professional surfer and fitness trainer Noah Snyder says that God’s Word is his source of true strength, encouragement and endurance. In a Life.Church video production, Noah Snyder shared how even a few minutes of reading the Bible gives him confidence and boldness to get through his day. As a fitness trainer he said encouraging others is a big part of his life, but to do this well, he needs to find encouragement himself first. “I’ve got to get plugged in every single day to God’s Word – and I do that through the Bible app on my phone,” he said. “The Word is what will sustain you. Your strength is only going to get you so far, but it is His strength that is actually going to get you through that finish line,” the former pro surfer, who is wellknown for big wave surfing, concluded.
Photo: Noah Snyder
Noah Snyder surfing at his local break in Nags Head, North Carolina.